Friday, April 24, 2009

Tropic Thunder

I just saw this movie for the first time on Wednesday. I loved it for so many reasons, from its status as a parody of war movies, to its commentary on cinema in general, there were so many little things that add to it.

1. The Soundtrack
War movies (especially those based on Vietnam) have this wonderful tendency to use music by artists that were involved in the anti-war movement of the counterculture. Like using The Doors to open Apocalypse Now, Tropic Thunder uses a great collection of 60s music including Buffalo Springfield and The Rolling Stones.

2. Alpa Chino
A great send up of hip-hop rapper/actors, Alpa Chino also provided a sort of 'straight' man to Kirk Lazarus. The movie opens with his ad for "Booty Sweat" and "Bust-A-Nut," his energy drink and food bar in the same vein as Pimp Juice. He represents LL, Will Smith, T.I., 50, Luda, and any other rapper who decides to get into acting (Mos Def doesn't count), and the revelation that he's gay is also pretty funny considering the rumors surrounding Will Smith, Diddy and other hip-hop stars.

3. From the beginning fake trailers to introduce our actors, Tropic Thunder makes passing jabs at the movie business throughout the entire film. When Lazarus advises Tugg Speedman to not go "full retard" to get a more meaningful performance, he spouts off a long list of Oscar winners to back up his claim. Also, the Klump-bashing Fattie franchise Jeff Portnoy stars in was hilarious. It was nice that it only played such a small part in the movie, but it was great that it was put in there. Also, Ben Stiller used his standing in the industry to get a wonderful collection of cameos. Tobey Maguire as a gay monk fondling Lazarus's rosary beads and Jennifer Love Hewitt, Lance Bass and Jon Voight at the Oscars made great additions to the movie just by being there.

4. Ben Stiller and Jack Black were not Ben Stiller and Jack Black
Usually I hate Jack Black and Ben Stiller has a tendency to place the same character over and over again. Stiller did a very good job of writing characters that both used his strengths, without being the cliche man in over his head he usually ends up with. Jack Black really toned down his energy and I greatly appreciated it.

5. I'm not even familiar enough with war movies to begin to list the references here. Check out this list:
Although I do want to add that I don't think it's complete yet. For example, the first big explosion where the trees explode from left to right was taken directly out of Apocalypse Now.

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